It’s Friday night, and I can say with a little bit of confidence that when Rebecca Black was talking about fun, fun, fun, she sure the hell wasn’t talking about watching a Seattle Mariners game.
For the second straight day the Mariners not only lost a baseball game, but got drenched in the process. Kansas City is getting pounded by severe rain storms, and if the Mariners are lucky maybe MLB will have mercy and cancel the last two games of the series so the M’s can just come back home……..Where more rain awaits.
The good news is at least the Mariners lost with a little bit of dignity today, thanks to the game not getting rained out pre maturely. A rally, yes, that’s right, a rally. The Mariners mounted four runs in the final two innings to only lose by a run. That’s an improvement….right?
Kind of, I guess. If you like having a rise of hope and optimism, only to have it snatched away from you, literally, by the third basemen after a Chone Figgins line out.
It was eerily similar to how the Mariners rallied back on Monday night from seven down to beat the Blue Jays 8-7. The free pass. The Mariners led off the inning with two walks, Saunders cashed in with an RBI single, Luis Rodriguez walked, and Justin Smoak came off the bench to pinch hit for Brendan Ryan drawing a 7 pitch bases loaded walk. Of course, two batters later the rally was killed by Chone Figgins hitting the ball directly at somebody.
All in all the Mariners scored 80 percent of their runs in the last two innings. Which is something Mariner fans should get used to. Well, I don’t know if we should, but it’s definitely what’s been happening the last 14 games.
Of the 49 runs the Mariners have averaged during their 4-10 start 30 have come from the 7th inning on. 19 from the 8th inning on. 10 of those runs have been in the final frame. Which means in their first 14 games the Mariners have only scored a combined 19 runs from the 1st to 6th innings.
So, basically, the Mariners show up to the ball park 15 minutes before first pitch and use the first six frames as batting practice.
Monday night against Toronto, and tonight, the Mariners scored a combined 11 runs in the final two innings, which accounts for most of that. And all that’s achieved for them is a win and a loss. The Mariners have jump started that because of drawing a combined 9 walks.
It’s nice that at least at some point the Mariners can get something going and show a little semblance of competitiveness, but realistically if the Mariners keep doing this when four or more run deficits they’re going to be continuing to fight an uphill battle. I haven’t done extensive research on this, but, generally I would assume that the most successful baseball teams in the league take leads into the 7th inning and generally only have to rely on marginal offensive production in the later innings to pad with insurance runs. At least, that’s what I’ve been used to when the Mariners have had successful teams. Even in 2009 when the M’s perfected the one run victory. Not to be confused with the philosophy that scoring first breeds victory, the Mariners have drew first blood in three of their losses this season, including tonight.
The problem is that the Mariners can’t either A. Bunch together runs in an early inning, or B. consistently score here or there early in games. Take tonight, for example, the Mariners did a great job capitalizing on a leadoff Ichiro double to take a 1-0 lead in the first inning. Luke Hochevar then proceeded to no hit the Mariners until he left the game after the 7th inning.
They can try to score all the late inning runs they want, but not many teams lose with starting pitching performances like that (….except for Seattle)
What’s the rhyme or reason for this hapless Mariners scoring trend? I don’t know. This is a trend that I would actually suspect will dwindle in the coming days, and, instead of the Mariners 3.5 runs per game being spread more evenly among the nine frames, that the final three innings will simply look more like the first six. I’m going to chalk it up to bad bullpen play from the opposition, and the fact that complacency takes over for young players with big leads. The fact of the matter is that our offense is bad, and it’s success when it comes to forming big innings in the middle of games will come down to the heart of the line-up being production. That’s Milton Bradley, Jack Cust and Justin Smoak. There’s room for optimism, Justin Smoak had a great at bat today and he’s shown signs of power. Cust and Bradley are still in the, meh, category for now.
Now, for other notes from tonight:
Michael Saunders in Center Field? Me likey. Eric Wedge and Jack Z are finally on the same page as me in the sense that this kid needs everyday at bats. The former regime mismanaged Mike Morse, Saunders is too talented to be squandered. At the very least he could have trade value if the Mariners didn’t have a place for him, and him playing Center is the perfect way to get that out of him. He played superb defense tonight and came away with a big hit late in the game. Saunders is coming along as an everyday player, and not a AAAA player.
Erik Bedard is so flat. The frustrating thing is is that there are a few of the glimpses of why he was so good previously. His delivery deception managed to catch a few batters off guard and got his strikeout numbers. But the long ball was once again Bedard’s undoing as a Jeff Francoeur two run shot proved to be the difference. Matt Treanor piled on for one more. Patience will be required for Bedard, his game is deception, and not over powering guys. He’s still getting a feel for his game after a year and a half off and unfortunately he can’t do that in the minors. I’m not pressing the panic button yet, but I’m restless.
Luis Rodriguez is solid, and I see why he made the club out of spring training. He’s Willie Bloomquist, except better defensively and he actually has good at bats. He walked twice today and shows the patience at the plate you want. I’d be down with him playing almost everyday. He’s never going to be a big +WAR player, but at this point, he’s the kind of hussle player that can make rooting for a baseball team this bad a little easier.
Adam Kennedy played first base and hit fifth in the line up today. My only rationalization for the continuing everyday play of Adam Kennedy is that he is the only player on the team who could keep a straight face when complimenting Eric Wedge’s porn stache.